When we ask lawyers what they need their marketing to accomplish for them, the most common answer by far is “I need more clients.” But we’d like to challenge that mindset. Do you really need more clients… or do you need better clients?

Take a moment and think through the clients you’ve worked with over the past several months. How many of them:

1. Didn’t pay you on time, in full, or maybe didn’t pay at all
2. Consumed a ton of time and energy in the engagement/consultation process before hiring you (or worse, not hiring you despite the time you invested)
3. Were rude or disrespectful towards you, your time, and/or your team
4. Didn’t trust you
5. Needed help with matters outside of your area of focus
6. Drained you, rather than energized you

Here’s an analogy for you. Think retail.

On one end of the spectrum you’ve got Wal-Mart – cheap, always open, stores all over the country, and you can get almost anything there – although the quality may be questionable.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. Expensive, restricted availability, and a very narrow selection of extremely high quality merchandise.

Wal-Mart makes money through volume. They have tiny profit margins, but they’re so efficient and they sell at such high volume that, as a company, they’re very profitable. Neiman Marcus and other high-end retailers make their money through higher margins. They sell to a much, much smaller number of customers than a Wal-Mart, but they’ve built a brand that allows them to create much higher margins than Wal-Mart. And so they don’t need a high volume of customers. They need the right customers.

For them, it’s not about quantity… it’s about quality.

Now, which end of the spectrum would you like your law practice to operate in? Would you rather be a (relatively) low-cost provider of a wide variety of legal services, making your money through high volume? Or would you prefer to build a focused, lower-volume, higher-margin practice?

I can’t answer that question for you. But I can tell you, generally speaking, that focusing on a niche, building a brand, and working with a smaller number of carefully selected clients will result in the following:

1. Less time working
2. Ability to charge higher rates
3. More referrals
4. More repeat business
5. More fulfillment with your work

I’d suggest you spend some time thinking about this. Figure out what you want your practice to look like. Is it quantity and high volume? Or is it quality and a more focused practice?

Once you’ve identified your direction, your marketing can help you get there. If you’d like to talk to the Spotlight Branding team about this, we’d be glad to have a conversation.


A few years ago I wrote in my blog – In Black and White blog: Are you developing business by optimism and serendipity? Here was some of  the insights I shared with readers to develop business with intention and strategy.

Increasing your Credibility: Where can you give speeches to reach your prospective clients or referral sources? What articles would your potential clients be interested in reading?

Increasing your Visibility: Can your potential clients find out about you through the Internet? Do your referral sources see you regularly at bar or industry events? Do you stay in touch with your friends, colleagues and classmates?

A former client who now lives in Tampa, Kelly Charles-Collins took this to heart and has increased her visibility and credibility that differentiates her from her colleagues. She has written a book and given a TEDx Talk. I ran across her TEDx Talk and reached out to congratulate her. I had a thousand questions and I’m delighted to share some of her answers with you.


Kelly, would you tell my readers a bit about your expertise.

I am a Speaker, Attorney, Author, Trainer, Consultant and Coach. For over 20 years as an employment attorney and MBA, I have guided hundreds of organizations – from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies – to discover the hidden truths about their workplace so they can create diverse, inclusive and harmonious cultures and minimize legal risk. Also, as the CEO of HR Legally Speaking, a Professional Speaking, Training and Consulting company I help organizations integrate the “Discipline of Trust,”TM the essential framework of unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, corporate culture and bystander intervention. I am also an Arbitrator on the AAA’s Commercial and Employment Law Panels and a University level educator on Human Resources and Employment Law. My new book ACE Your Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide for Avoiding Friction, Covering Your Assets, and Earning Employee Trust is available on Amazon.

What made you decide to write the book?

I always remembered the question you once asked: Are you developing business by optimism and serendipity? So, I was very intentional.

As an employment attorney, I personally conduct internal investigations and litigate cases that have been investigated internally by my clients. What I have learned over the years is that many people who are conducting workplace investigations lack the necessary skills to do so effectively. But I know that skills can be taught and learned. The bigger issue is the mindset of those conducting the investigations and/or the owners and executive management teams. The #METOO movement uncovered the hidden truths about why people don’t report issues at work: fear of retaliation and futility. This correlates with the mindset of many organizations that view workplace investigations as a waste of time, resources, money and essentially as a CYA tool.

I wrote my book to address this friction and reframe the way businesses, HR professionals, management and employees think about workplace investigations ─from reactive to proactive – focusing on the benefits rather than the burdens. I want them to embrace investigations as an opportunity to uncover what is going on in their business, affecting employee productivity, eroding employee trust, and ultimately, affecting their bottom line. My book is a way to leverage my expertise as a practical tool to help them do just that.

How did you fit it into your busy schedule?

I’m very adept at moving from vision to execution. We make time for the things we really want to do. Writing this book was something I really wanted to do. When I got home in the evenings and on weekends, I fired up my laptop and got to work. Some sleepless nights but worth every minute.

What was your process and how long did it take you?

I developed the framework by repurposing content from my years of training clients. I then analyzed questions I’d been asked, information from the #METOO movement, and the ultimate message I wanted to convey. I also researched the market to ensure I was providing a fresh perspective. I outlined the chapters and wrote about whatever came to my mind that day. I did what felt right for me. I wrote my book just the way I live my life – intentionally, with purpose and unburdened by others’ rules or expectations.

From concept to publishing, approximately 8 months. I chronicled my journey in my blog – Villages Aren’t Just for Kids: My Journey to Becoming a Published Author.

When did you realize that a TEDx Talk would be a good vehicle to reinforce your credibility and gain exposure for your book? 

Being a published author and a TEDx Speaker provide a level of authoritativeness and expertise that other “marketing” vehicles might not. But like with everything, just “being “is not enough. You must work diligently and consistently to leverage these vehicles to your advantage. The key is finding ways to make your expertise scalable. For example, I have developed a bystander intervention training program “bySTANDer free zone” based on my TEDx. This training is essential for organizations, schools, and universities that want to create a culture of action takers. This training is also essential for women, particularly in our male-dominated profession.

How did you get accepted and how did you prepare?

I worked with my coach, Soness Stevens, a TED and TEDx alumni and also with a local coach assigned by TEDx Ocala. Soness and I worked through her proprietary process to develop my talk on the Bystander Effect. We collaborated on my application and audition video. Once I was selected, we collaborated for several months to expand my 2.5-minute audition video into a 13-minute talk. Soness lives in Japan so we had some very long, late night Zoom calls. In between those calls, I had homework, including developing new ideas for the talk, practicing the talk for live audiences, and creating practice videos for her feedback. She taught me the art of synthesizing information into compact, but impactful statements and how to effectively deliver those ideas.

How you present a TED style talk is unique. As attorneys we advocate, argue, and advise. But at TED, you share ideas to enlighten, explore and encourage. It’s hard to explain the distinction in words but it’s so clear when you hear it. Soness’ coaching was invaluable. The morning of the talk, I was so sick – terrible cold and throwing up. But I was not nervous at all. I was so well prepared that I knew if I had 15 good minutes, I could nail it. And if I can brag a little, I nailed it. I encourage people to go to YouTube and watch the video and share with others. 

What advice would you give lawyers who want to do the same – write a book and/or give a TEDx Talk?

Be prepared to do the work. If you are not willing or able to invest the time, energy and money, don’t do it. I believe that whatever I put my name on has to be the best reflection of me. Therefore, once I’m in, I’m all in.

What’s next for you?

I will be launching my “bySTANDer free zone” program and merchandise line. I’m also researching the issue of “trust.” My background and experience have taught me that trust is the foundation of everything. But maybe that’s not true for everyone. To test that theory, I have created a quick 13 question survey to learn how others feel. I would love to hear from your readers. They can complete the survey here – Trust survey link 

My findings will be used for training clients and to provide them tools for developing and maintaining trust in their organizations and relationships. And since I’m always doing something, it will probably end up in a book of some sort. Stay tuned.

As you can see, Kelly has increased her credibility and visibility. She is focused on business development with intension and has differentiated herself in a unique way that is relevant and timely. You my friend could do the same!


A left brain/right brain lawyer, Kelly Charles-Collins is an analytical free-spirit. Kelly is as real as it gets – a true “salt of the earth.” Unafraid to share her own challenges and triumphs, Kelly gives you the good, bad, and ugly. Kelly’s mission is to be the light for others — revealing their passion, purpose, and greatness. A true believer in legacy building, Kelly guides organizations –small businesses to Fortune 100 companies – to discover the hidden truths about their workplace. An employment attorney with over 20 years of experience, Kelly guides organizations to nurture trust and respect so they can create diverse, inclusive, and harmonious cultures that deliver results.But she’s not just an attorney, Kelly is a skilled public speaker, author, consultant, and HR expert. Kelly’s book ACE Your Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide for Avoiding Friction, Covering Your Assets, and Earning Employee Trust, is available on Amazon or at www.kellycharlescollins.com.

Your marketing strategy is the key to growing your law firm. If your marketing strategy is stale (or non-existent) you’re not going to fuel the growth you’re hoping for. On the other hand, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in new clients, generate more referrals, and even help you justify higher rates. In this report, I suggest some possible “new additions” to help you take your law firm marketing to the next level.

How can you attract the clients and the work that you legitimately enjoy – and free yourself from the economic pressure to take any matter that shows up at your door?

Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning. Don’t try to implement all of these at once – I recommend focusing on just one or two initiatives at a time. Which ideas resonate with you and make sense for your firm?

1) Launch a podcast. Podcasting has exploded as a media source – iTunes reports over one billion subscriptions, and hundreds of millions of plays per month. Launching a podcast geared towards your target market is an effective strategy that you can use to educate potential clients, keep them engaged, and build your credibility at the same time. The key is to come up with a theme and a direction that provides genuinely valuable information to your market. As a business attorney, you could focus your podcast on legal pitfalls that entrepreneurs should be aware of. A family attorney could focus on preparing for and navigating the divorce process, including how to protect and care for the children involved. The possibilities are endless. What are the most common questions and misunderstandings that your clients have? Chances are, addressing those issues would make a great podcast.

2) Host events. Creating and hosting in-person events for potential clients and referral sources can generate momentum and enthusiasm for your practice. We’ve seen clients take this strategy in many different directions – from hosting monthly informational sessions for individuals contemplating divorce, to holding quarterly VIP parties for top referral sources, to organizing seminars featuring expert speakers on topics of interest to business owners. Get creative and find an angle to host in-person events and build a community around your law firm.

3) Sharpen your referral strategy. Referrals are a primary source of new business for most law firms, and clients who are referred to you are typically among the most pleasant and profitable to work with. Are you doing everything can to maximize these referrals? Start by identifying your top referral sources and invest time and energy into deepening those relationships. Identify other individuals who are strategically positioned to send a high volume of work your way and create relationships with them as well. The potential payoff makes it worth your personal investment in this relatively short list of individuals. But, don’t neglect your current clients, your past clients, and your larger network. Ensure that you’re creating top-of-mind awareness and continually educating them on what a good referral looks like. Consider creating referral incentives or even holding regular referral competitions to keep your entire network engaged.

4) Targeted sponsorships. Sponsorships can be a big waste of money if you take the wrong approach. Do NOT jump on every opportunity that comes your way. I’ve seen firms spend large sums of money sponsoring organizations, events, or publications that have little-to-no relevance to their target market. On the other hand, if you can identify groups, events, websites, or magazines that your clients are engaged with, sponsorship can make a great deal of sense. The best approach is generally to identify a small number of organizations or publications to sponsor, and to engage with them as deeply as possible. Sponsor their events and ask for speaking opportunities or other visibility. Sponsor newsletters and ask if you can also contribute content. Do your best to create repeated touch-points for members or subscribers – repetition and consistency is key.

5) Offer an audit or check-in to past and current clients. Oftentimes there is more work to be done for your past and even current clients. They just don’t know they need it yet, or they don’t know that you can provide the solution. Solve both problems by creating an “audit” or evaluation for your clients. This could be a worksheet they complete on their own, or it may be a sit-down with you or (even better) someone on your team. The goal is simple: ask them questions about their business, their estate plan, their family life, whatever it may be, and help them to see that they need your help in these areas. Be prepared to explain how you can help them address these challenges or take advantage of the opportunities that you have uncovered together. This simple strategy could result in a massive influx of new work.

6)  Publish a book. There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. While it might sound overwhelming, chances are that you have a good amount of content that you have created over the years which could be re-purposed into a book. If you have a marketing person on your team, assign them to organize this content into an outline. Then, create new content as needed to fill holes and create cohesion. There are a variety of companies out there that can help you lay out and publish your book, and some of them can even help you with the content as well.

Once you’ve had your book printed, the marketing opportunities are endless. Give it away at consultations. Offer it as a gift to past clients. Use it as a door prize at events. It’s a powerful tool that will enhance your credibility and build your brand as an authority in your practice area in a very big way.

7) Network smarter. Networking is a valuable strategy for drumming up referrals and new business, particularly when you’re in the “more-time-than-money” phase of your firm. But it’s important to manage your investment well. Don’t simply attend every event in your area. Instead, identify a small handful of targeted organizations that have great potential and get heavily involved. Don’t just attend, get involved in leadership. Speak at events. You’ll get a much better return from deep involvement in a few carefully selected organizations than you will from surface-level involvement in a large number of groups.

8) Speak. Speaking positions you as an expert and an authority. It’s a great way to attract new clients. Look for opportunities to speak in front of your target market – whether that’s a networking group, a trade association, a seminar or conference, or whatever the case may be. Look for opportunities to educate your audience while building your expertise at the same time. This can include presentations on changing laws and regulations that impact your industry, tips and strategies for your market, best practices for avoiding legal disputes, and more. Just be sure that you’re targeting speaking opportunities that make strategic sense for you – opportunities to reach potential clients in a way that enhances your expertise and your position in the marketplace.

9) Launch a joint venture. Who can you partner with and what can you create to reach a new audience? I know a business lawyer that partnered with a banker and a graphic designer to create a “one stop start-up shop” for entrepreneurs – helping them to address the legal, financial, and marketing needs of their new business all in one place. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here – who can you join forces with to provide a uniquely valuable product or service for your clients? The advantages to this approach are significant – it represents an opportunity to earn additional income from your existing clients, but more importantly it also gives you access to the clients and customers of your partners in this venture. If you’re creative, you may also tap into a whole “new market” by creating a product or service that didn’t exist previously. Many of these people will expand the relationship over time, engaging you beyond the scope of the initial joint venture.

10) Train your staff to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for new business. Finally, get the team involved. Your staff likely knows people that could use your services or will encounter them in their daily life – and they’ve seen firsthand how your firm creates value for your clients. Teach them how to recognize potential clients, how to engage them, and how to connect them with you (or whoever handles the intake process for your firm.) This doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it frankly shouldn’t be hard for your team to execute. They just need to understand who’s a good fit and be able to briefly articulate the value that your firm provides to those clients. You never know who your team knows, so tap into their network as well as your own. You can consider offering some sort of incentive for your team members, if appropriate. Make it a team effort!

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully you’ve gleaned a few ideas that could work for your firm. But it’s important to be realistic about this – don’t bite off more than you can chew. I suggest that you identify one (or two at most) new initiatives to start with. Invest the time to get them up and running and carefully track your results. When you find something that works well, make it a part of your ongoing marketing system and then move on to the next new idea.

 

It isn’t always enough to set your goals and the strategy you are going to use to get there. Sometime we need a little inspiration or maybe a lot of inspiration! One of my favorite contributors to Inc. Magazine is Jeff Haden and last year he came up with a truly amazing compilation of 50 Quotes to Inspire You to Achieve Your Goals, and I’m sure it will be just what you need to guide you along your 2019 journey to success. Pick out a few quotes that speak to you to focus on when the going gets rough.

Jeff writes “… sometimes all you need is a little push, a little nudge. A little burst of motivation and inspiration. Here are fifty of those nudges.

Pick the one that makes your skin tingle, your heart race, your motor rev, and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day: your monitor, your screen saver, your background and let it help take you to the place you’ve always wanted to go.

1. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” —Walt Disney

2. “Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” —Travis Kalanick

3. “The question I ask myself almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'”—Mark Zuckerberg

4. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” —Chinese proverb

5. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” —Florence Nightingale

6. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart

7. “Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda

8. “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” —Mark Twain

9. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” —Lao Tzu

10. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” —Alice Walker

11. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

12. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” —Woody Allen

13. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” —Farrah Gray

14. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot

15. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” —Henry Ford

16. “You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”— Unknown

17. “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” —Joshua Marine

18. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” —Booker T. Washington

19. “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” —Jim Rohn

20.”Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.” —Jimmy Spithill

21. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” —Steve Jobs

22. “The best revenge is massive success.” —Frank Sinatra

23. “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson

24. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

25. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain

26. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

27. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin

28. “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” —Aristotle

29. “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” —Teddy Roosevelt

30. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” —George Addair

31. “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” —Japanese proverb

32. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”—Robert Frost

33. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” —Stephen Covey

34. “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.” —Paul Graham

35. “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.” —Bob Dylan

36. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” —Albert Einstein

37. “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” —Chinese proverb

38. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou

39. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” —Wayne Gretzky

40. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” —Nelson Mandela

41. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” —Confucius

42. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” —Tony Robbins

43. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill

44. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” —Beverly Sills

45. “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” —Booker T. Washington

46. “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” —Vaibhav Shah

47. “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

48. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand

49. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” —Steve Jobs

50. “Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” —Biz Stone

Do something every single day, has been my mantra for many years. Why, because it’s much easier to commit to small tasks. And those small tasks can accumulate and become a tidal wave. As the saying goes, How do you eat an elephant…one bite at a time.

That is what business development can feel like… eating an elephant! It doesn’t have to feel that way if you do something every single day. So here is a 7-Day Action Plan to get you started.

In this 7 – Day Plan I present you with the tools to make marketing a lifelong habit. There are no lengthy sessions or hours of work…these tasks can take as little as 2 minutes (sending an e-mail) to as long as an hour (lunching with a contact).

For each day I encourage you to THINK about and ACT on a specific element of the process. I also give you a timely TIP that can put you on the right track…right away. Creating a new habit is not easy and it’s not instant, this will help you get started!

Day 1- Monday: LISTEN

THINK: In order to market yourself, you must first understand and define what makes you stand out from the crowd. As a lawyer, your name is your brand, and no one knows you better than your client. Listening to their feedback and realizing how they view your practice can help you focus on what’s really important.

ACT: Call three clients and ask them what they value most about your relationship and the work that you do for them. Take notes and try to be as open minded as possible.

TIP: Try to get detailed rather than general statements. Use follow-up questions and ask for examples. Hearing that your office is communicative is too general; hearing that your office updates clients on their cases on a weekly basis makes you stand out.

Day 2-Tuesday: ANALYZE

THINK: One of the most important first steps in marketing yourself is to identify and write down your “points of differentiation,” or the services and qualities that separate you from the crowd. Consider a unique area of expertise –or unique philosophy on business—that makes you stand out from the crowd. Figuring out what that is (or what you would like it to be) and how that benefits your clients can make all the difference.

ACT: Look closely at your client feedback from yesterday…you may be surprised. Using that information, write out three points of differentiation for your practice. Make these ideas the basis of future marketing efforts… and make sure people know about them!

TIP: Be specific and be creative. All attorneys say they return calls promptly. You may have a “2-hour” rule, in which all clients receive a response within 2 hours of a phone call or e-mail. All attorneys say they are experienced. You may have worked in your clients’ industry before you represented them.

Day 3- Wednesday: REVIEW

THINK: Your online bio could be a prospective client’s first impression of your skills and experience. By viewing it as more of a marketing tool than resume, you will be able to see places where a rewrite (or edit) could be useful. Think about what your client’s value about your background and the interesting details, memberships or cases that make you an expert in your field. Does everything in your bio have meaning to a client?

ACT: Read through your bio and ask yourself if it clearly communicates your points of differentiation… what your clients want to know. If not, make some changes. Keep it short, keep it informative and most of all write from the client’s perspective, not yours.

TIP: A bio is not a place to list every case, organization and committee you have ever been a part of; it’s a place to show clients how you can be of use to him or her. It should include your contact info, education information, a 2-3-sentence narrative, your most recent (or most important) cases and the organizations or committees that would be of interest to your clients. Show them that you have the knowledge and experience to help them with their issues.

Day 4 – Thursday: IDENTIFY

THINK: Once you understand who your client is, you can tailor your marketing to better reach them.  Is there a niche market you are filling (or can fill)? Is there a specific industry that could be drawn to your practice? Is there a demographic that you are consistently reaching? Cater to your client and new business will find you. Stay in that niche and momentum will build.

ACT: Look closely at your client roster and analyze what ties them together. Identify your client categories.

TIP: Are the majority of your clients in the construction business? If so, you now have a clear message (knowledge of the industry) to focus on and a clear audience to market to (trade associations, etc.).

Day 5 – Friday: RESEARCH

THINK: Now that you know your client, go out and find them. What organizations do they belong to? Who do they do business with? Following their lead can bring in new business and connect your practice to other decision-makers who may need your services.

ACT: Investigate the organizations that your clients are members of. Ask them what is important to them. Identify one to join and become active in over the next 6-18 months. Choose one where you can truly make a difference.

TIP: A local or national trade organization is a good place to start. That will expose you to a large group of potential clients who have the same interests (and needs) as your current clientele.

Day 6- Saturday: STRATEGIZE

THINK: It may seem impossible, but realizing the importance of making time for marketing is an important step toward success. Just as billable hours are counted and analyzed, so should your marketing efforts. Create goals, set expectations and reward performance…even if it’s simply you.

ACT: Set a tangible financial goal. Be specific and give yourself a measurable result to be accountable for. Plan out the steps you need to take to reach those goals. Do what you say you are going to do.

TIP: Use your new organization to help set your goal. Consider how your involvement can reap results. Figure out how to network and connect via that membership and figure out how to bring in 2 clients from those connections within the next 12 months (presentations count…they can result in referrals!).

Day 7- Sunday: JOIN

THINK:The only way to reach potential clients is to get in front of them. As we mentioned before, by becoming active in organizations that matter to your clients you learn more about their needs and can offer more specified services. What do you have to offer the organization you have chosen?

ACT: Join the organization you chose on Friday and since it’s Sunday, fill out an online application. Look around their site and figure out who you will make contact with tomorrow.

TIP: Making contact with an organization President or Board Member shows you are committed to involvement and helps you stand out among the plethora of members. The idea is to get involved and meet people who will learn to trust and respect you.

Now you have a 7-Day head start on your new business development habit. You have momentum going; don’t stop now. Keep making notes of the strategies that work, keep reaching out to contacts and keep emphasizing your points of differentiation.

Part of this article is an except from my Amazon bestseller, The little Black Book: A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating A Marketing Habit in 21 Day.

Over the past seven years at Spotlight Branding, we’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers across the country. In that time we’ve had literally thousands of conversations with attorneys. And one of the things that jumps out at me, looking back on those conversations, is how often marketing decisions are driven by tools instead of strategy.

Quite frankly, I don’t blame lawyers for getting this backward – it’s our fault, collectively, in the marketing world. So often, marketers talk exclusively about tools with no regard whatsoever to building a cohesive marketing strategy. 

Here are some examples of a tools-oriented conversation:

  • How can I show up higher on Google?
  • How can I reach more people on Facebook?
  • How can I generate more leads from my website?
  • How can I use Instagram in my marketing?

These aren’t bad questions. But they are secondary questions, and too often lawyers and marketers treat them as the primary questions. And as a result, they end up with a disjointed and ineffective marketing strategy.

There are an endless amount of tools that you can leverage in your marketing, and they’re changing every day. Google, Facebook, email marketing, video, direct mail, billboards, radio, TV, third-party apps, PPC ads, and the list goes on. But if you don’t have a defined strategy to serve as a filter and a guide, to create context for these tools, they end up driving you rather than the other way around. 

If you asked me “how can I show up higher on Google?,” I’d ask you WHY you want to show up on Google.

To get more clients? OK – well what if I told you that there are easier, cheaper, and more predictable ways to get more clients? For example, the average lawyer is only capturing about one-third of the referrals that they could be getting from their existing network. Figuring out how to maximize your referrals is a whole lot cheaper and more predictable than fighting for top position on Google! That’s the low-hanging fruit, and that’s where every lawyer should start.

Rather than worrying about Facebook or Instagram reach, first have the conversation about how you want to use social media in general. Are you using it to build your brand, to generate new “cold” leads, to stay in touch with your referral network? There’s no “right” answer, but what matters is that you’ve defined your objectives.

So rather than focusing on the tools that are available to you, or more accurately, the tools that are being sold to you… here are the types of questions you should be considering:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • Where does your ideal client spend time? What media sources do they consume? What types of events do they go to?
  • What’s your brand – what do you stand for?
  • What makes you different than the competitors in your market?
  • Who are your best referral sources and how can you stay top-of-mind with them?
  • How many new clients/cases/matters do you need to win each month to meet your financial goals?
  • What is your maximum acceptable Cost of Acquisition – aka how much can you afford to spend to win a new client?
  • How are you going to generate leads?
  • How are you going to build your brand?
  • How are you going to stay in touch with prospective clients who haven’t hired you yet?
  • How can you maximize referrals and repeat business?

Do you see the difference?

Once you’ve answered the big-picture strategic questions, you can talk about the tools in a much more strategic and cohesive way.

Strategy drives tools… the tools exist to serve and execute the strategy. Don’t get it backward! 

Want more tips & inspiration for your law firm marketing? Click here for instant access to our Special Report entitled “How Your Internet Foundation Will Make or Break Your Marketing”!

 

 

Everyone knows that the purpose of marketing your law practice is bringing in new clients… right?

Well, yes. But that’s only part of the story. In fact, it’s just as important that your marketing keeps the wrong clients out of your law practice. Here’s what I mean by the “wrong” clients. Have you dealt with any of this recently?

  • Clients who can’t or won’t pay you on time.
  • Clients who need work outside of your area of focus.
  • Clients who abuse your time and your staff’s’ time.
  • Clients who don’t respect you and don’t value your expertise.
  • Potential New Clients (PNC) who ask a bunch of questions, take up a bunch of your time, and then don’t hire you.

Symptoms of working with too many of the wrong clients include:

  • Never-ending cash-flow stress because you’re not getting paid on time – or at all.
  • Constantly being forced to re-invent the wheel because no two client engagements look the same.
  • Stress and unhappiness – nobody enjoys dealing with jerks all day!
  • Too much time and effort spent in the intake process, and not enough business won.
  • Operating your law practice probably won’t be much fun, because every day is a struggle and it’s hard to get ahead.

If some or all of that sounds familiar… your marketing is at least part of the problem. So here’s what you can do about it. In a nutshell, you need to build a brand that positions you as irresistibly attractive to the “right” clients while keeping everyone else away. Here are practical ways to make this happen:

Puzzle Piece #1 – Build your ACE brand – Authority, Credibility, Expertise. Many of the problems discussed above stem directly from the perception that your clients and PNCs have of you and your practice. The more that clients view you as a commodity – more or less interchangeable with other lawyers or legal services – the more problems you’re going to have. Conversely, if you can develop a brand for yourself that positions you as a leading expert, as highly respected and skilled, as uniquely valuable… many of these problems will go away. Invest into building your brand and positioning yourself as “the best” at what you do in your market. Consider writing a book. Look for speaking engagements. Write blogs and articles. Get active on social media. Use video to tell your story and enhance your credibility. Look for opportunities to appear on TV or on the radio.

Puzzle Piece #2 – Focus on a niche. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none. It’s hard to position yourself as an expert if you’re a generalist. I highly recommend narrowing your focus to a single practice area, or a group of related practice areas. Here’s a thought experiment for you: Imagine that a loved one is having a health crisis and you’re looking for a doctor. What would your preference be – a generic practitioner or a specialist with a focus in the specific health issue your loved one is dealing with?

Of course you’d choose the specialist. You’d be willing to pay more for his/her services. You’d probably be sure to pay on time. And you’d treat the professional with the respect he/she deserves. Right? The same is true for you in your law practice.

This may sound scary, but you can start by simply narrowing the focus of your marketing. You don’t have to turn down clients in other practice areas. We all have bills to pay and you may not be ready to turn down paying clients yet. So you can continue to take work in other areas, even as you focus your marketing on a specific niche.

Puzzle Piece #3 – Sharpen your marketing message. Once you’ve identified your niche, you can tailor your marketing message directly to them. If you’re targeting women who are considering divorce, use language that resonates with them. If you’re targeting retired couples who are planning for the future of their estate, build your brand and your message for maximum appeal to them.

The more you can tailor your message specifically to your target clients, the more you’ll attract them. And you’ll turn away PNCs that don’t fit the profile.

Put the puzzle together and you can attract clients instead of chasing them. You create power and leverage when you position yourself as an ACE within a specific niche. You naturally begin to attract clients who value your expertise and the unique value that you create. You condition your clients to do things your way instead of being forced to reinvent the wheel every time you get a new engagement. This is how you create power in the marketplace. It’s how you attract the right clients and keep the wrong ones away. Ultimately, it’s how you build a sustainably profitable practice and attract work that you enjoy doing.

So ask yourself… is your marketing keeping the wrong people OUT of your law firm? If not, what are you going to do about it?

If you’d like more information and more practical steps to build a powerful brand that attracts the right clients while keeping the wrong ones away, click here to download our FREE Special Report entitled How to Create MarketPower™ And Grow Your Law Firm.

Marketing meetings are important. But sometimes they’re just an excuse for inaction. Talk is cheap. Buy-in and action are key. I have attended many a marketing meeting over the years, and unfortunately, many have resulted in inaction.

My friend Larry Smith and Richard Levick of Levick Communications wrote 365 Marketing Meditations: Daily Lessons for Marketing & Communications Professionals. Their daily meditations have provided inspiration for many of my blog posts over the years including this week.

March 29: “Discussions are not actions.”

March 30: “Each great idea requires equivalent energy and action. Meetings and discussions aren’t work. They’re preludes to work.”

What I have found is that marketing meetings like many meetings lead to ideas that are never enacted. Don’t have your practice group marketing sessions lead to the same result. You’re just wasting valuable time.

Marketing planning I’ve found in my 31 years in the business is the easy part for lawyers. Implementation is not. Too often it is where the plan falls apart. In coaching, I refer to myself as the CNO (although I retired from the Navy reserve) it has nothing to do with that title. Rather it stands for “chief nagging officer.” It is that role that I am most thanked for.

So, remember that discussions, meetings and planning are only the start. The key is taking ACTION.

I’m no Chicken Little, but I do have a sinking feeling about our profession. In my more than four decades as a lawyer, I have seen huge changes, not the least of which include:

  • Too many lawyers, too few jobs relatively speaking
  • accountants practicing tax law;
  • financial advisors drafting estate plans, wills and trusts;
  • unhappy and rebellious clients;
  • offshore research and drafting;
  • software created legal documents (e.g., LegalZoom);
  • realization rates woefully low;
  • a significant drop in the percentage of grads getting legal jobs within nine months;
  • …and so on.

I don’t know many lawyers who would realistically disagree that the profession is in a bunch of hurt. I have told friends who have a child or grandchild considering law school, to forget it. I don’t know whether that makes me a traitor to our guild or not. I realize the old-timers and those charging $900 an hour (I was advised that someone was bragging recently that he charges $1500 an hour) see no problem.  How long do you think clients are going to put up with that nonsense?  But, this message is not for those lawyers anyway.

Rather it’s for the much younger members of the bar, who dream (and expect) to reach that zenith. They might, but the vast majority won’t even come close. In fact, if Richard and Daniel Susskind, who co-authored The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Humans are right, there will be “technology unemployment” in the professions (not just law, but architecture, medical, financial professions as well) and there will eventually be less need for lawyers.

Hogwash, you say?  Listen to their podcast about the book hosted by Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson on LegalTalkNetwork.  Unfortunately, 90% of lawyers won’t because it is slightly over 40 minutes in length. There is that billable hour demand after all.  I’m glad I spent the time, however.

Another recent article that cites the Susskind’s book is “The End of Lawyers, Period” by D. Casey Flaherty on   ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels under the New Normal. It contains links to some contrarian views, but also citing the “2015 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transitions Survey” points out that “Only 20 percent (of those responding stated)… that computers will never replace human practitioners.”

If you think technology can NEVER replace people, think about all the artificial intelligence already out there; such as, while doing a query on the Internet, the rest of your search term pops up before you’ve typed half of it.  Also, remember Deep Blue, the chess challenge that beat Garry Kasparov in 1997.  What is to prevent some Silicon Valley genius developing an algorithm using a database of gazillions of reported cases that will answer most, if not the majority, of legal issues down the road.  Will lawyers become extinct? Surely not, but for certain the need will be for less as technology advances.

My message is really directed at younger lawyers and future grads still in law school.  And it is: Learn quickly how to market your services and develop business in order to survive in today’s new normal and build a nest egg to temporary outwit that (technology) Foxy Loxy that Chicken Little and friends failed to. Maybe the sky won’t fall on your head, but a whole lot of acorns are going to give you a massive headache before your career is over, IMHO.

Lawyers should do the kind to work they enjoy and for the clients they like. Duh, you may say, thinking that that is a simplistic and obvious statement.  Not so fast.   That may be the ideal, but not often accomplished. According to David Maister in his famous book True Professionalism (pages 23-24) he found in his surveys of lawyers over the years that a majority either merely tolerated or disliked the work they did and the clients they represented.

How sad.

There are practical reasons that lawyers shouldn’t take all the work that comes their way. If they concentrate in a niche practice and even more so on specific industry(ies), they will be better service providers. With a better understanding of their clients’ business and industry, they will assuredly be more successful both in their technical abilities and business development skills.

A common complaint I’ve heard in surveying law firm clients over three decades is that lawyers do not understand  the client’s business. It is one reason that clients will not use a particular lawyer or firm again. Gerry Riskin in a post on Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices points out:

“Clients are hungry to find lawyers who really understand their businesses, but some firms are reluctant to market their services to specific industries.”

Unfortunately, some law firms don’t market to industry segments because they are afraid they’ll miss out on other work. The solution is to list numerous industry segments in a firm’s areas of practice, and provide links to more information about the firm’s experience in each. So, list dozens of industries where the firm has experience.

In today’s competitive legal market, it is logical for lawyers to focus their practices and not try to be all things to all comers. Marketing to industry segments is one way to do that to benefit both the clients and the firm.